History of Hard Knocks

You may have heard that the Dallas Cowboys will be featured in this upcoming season of HBO’s Hard Knocks. They have been the focus of this series twice. Once during its second season in 2002 and then again a few years later in 2008. This show allows fans to get an inside look at the way an NFL franchise operates during the process of players attempting to make the final roster. It also gives them the chance to get to know people within the organization. That could include individuals such as an undrafted free agent. Maybe even someone on the equipment staff they normally would never get to interact within their lives. A lot of fans love this show for that very reason. This fact has made Hard Knocks one of the most successful sports shows out there.

Putting a competitive sports team on a nationally televised show like this is great for getting a franchise’s following invested in the organization, The issue here is that it is not exclusively for a team’s fans. Anyone that gets HBO can watch this series. Meaning they can pick up players’ tendencies, team schemes, and a ton of over items such as those. Say an employee of another team was to watch this show and see something their organization can use against them. That would open the viewed team up to be exploited in some way.

Examples of Explotation

This has happened many times in the past. The Cowboys were actually the beneficiaries of this type of insight. Before the 1993 Super Bowl against Buffalo, the Bills was caught running a shovel pass in the background of a local news show. Former head coach, Jimmy Johnson, saw this clip on said program. What should Dallas do? They could have ignored this incredible information and decide not to use it to their advantage. That would be the most honorable thing a coach could ever do for his team. Instead, they decided to be devilish and use this knowledge to help them win the Super Bowl.

The former coach later said on NFL Fims’ show America’s Game, “I was watching a local sports station. and it had B-roll of Buffalo warming up, and I saw (quarterback) Jim Kelly, taking the football with no one else around… and pitching it like a shovel pass to (running back) Thurman Thomas.”. This may not have been morally right, but anybody that knows anything about competitive sports at all, no matter their character, would have done the same thing.

The Cowboys could now be like the Bills in this regard. Another team could use something they saw on Hard Knocks to take advantage of them. Do not even consider arguing with me for one second on this. Anyone that follows the NFL and has even the slightest amount of intelligence would not think twice before utilizing this information to their benefit. That is always the risk when a team releases footage of any team activity to even their most loyal fans.

NFL Owners Publicity of Their Teams

Almost all NFL team owners are people in the business world and want their franchise to be profitable. Some are even willing to allow that extra exposure of their organization for a little extra revenue. If you are looking for a person who is willing to promote his or her team all around the world and is 100% okay with this, look no further than the owner and general manager of the previously mentioned Cowboys, Jerry Jones.

Jerry Jones’ Role in Hard Knocks

Cowboys' Owner and general manager Jerry Jones looking out onto the field from the sideline. "pictured here"

Jones and the Cowboys have been linked since he bought the team in the late 1980s from former owner H.R. Bright. He took over a team that was losing money consistently. He then made it one of if not the most valuable sports franchises in the world. This is no surprise for anybody that knows football at all. Jones runs a successful oil business that has made him extremely wealthy. That is after a dozen or so failed business ventures failed before then. He then did the same with the Cowboys and its organization as a whole.

As I previously mentioned, the Cowboys were on Hard Knocks in 2002 and 2008. In both of those seasons, the show was fairly entertaining. Not just because of the preseason expectations for those seasons, but because it was America’s Team. Another similarity is in how those seasons’ ended. The first year they were featured, the team finished with a 5-11 regular-season record. A horrible season to say the least as they finished last in their division. The second time around it was mildly better in terms of the team’s success. They won nine games that season but still failed to make the postseason. That is where I believe the curse of the series exists for Dallas.

Former quarterback Tony Romo and tight end Jason Witten speaking while stretching prior to a training camp session in 2008. "pictured here"

Concerns for the Cowboys 2021 Season

After it was announced Dallas would be featured on Hard Knocks this season, I went into panic mode. The coincidence of being on this show and the Cowboys following season is scary. This is true, especially for their fans. Those that want to see the team succeed in not just the regular season, but the playoffs as well, are terrified.

Some of them enjoy the attention it brings to the team. They want the entire world to be aware of America’s Team. Which unless you are living under a rock, you already know. I assume Jerry Jones also likes this aspect of it. Some fans around the league enjoy this as well. They, like me, see this as a distraction from actually playing football. Why would they not want the Cowboys on the show? Aside from the fact that their fans are insufferable, they cheer for the self-titled America’s Team, Jones is hated by all other teams’ followers, even by some of his own organization’s fans, and a ton of other reasons so many people cannot stand the franchise.

2020 Season Overview

There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that last season was a complete failure. Some even were picking them as the Super Bowl champions for that year. Injuries and a lack of depth played a small role in that result. They had a lot of players mist the entirety of last year due to being hurt. This included franchise quarterback Dak Prescott, both starting offensive tackles Tyron Smith and La’el Collins, and even newly acquired defensive tackle, Gerald McCoy. These are just a few of those individuals that missed significant time last year due to injuries.

Reasons for the Lack of Success

Injuries were tough enough. Then adding horrible depth atop of that made it even worse. Cowboys fans thought the team was deep at most positions. They could not have been more wrong. Granted, those non-starters played well for the situation they were put in. There were just too many major holes to fill to salvage the season. Backup quarterback Andy Dalton did his best with the little he had after Dak went down. He still could not get Dallas to the playoffs. Dalton did not get a lot of help from his offensive line either. Several times after being knocked to the ground, they completely ignored him even if he took a big shot.

Quarterback Andy Dalton being helped off the field by the team's medical staff. "pictured here"

During this time of unbelievable struggle for the Cowboys, someone needed to step up. The obvious thought was Ezekiel Elliot who had just signed an extension the previous year. Dallas’ running back has always been there when the team needed him most. This time, he completely flopped. He had one of the worst statistical seasons of his short career. I presume this made the team question making him the then highest-paid running back in the NFL. This along with one of the worst passing defenses in the league created the perfect defecation storm for Dallas.

Trying to Repair a Horrible Team

The Cowboys attempted to resolve some of those issues they had last season. They got Prescott back from injury and all other players seem to be recovering nicely. The Cowboys added a little help with depth on the roster by signing two former Falcons safeties in Keanu Neal and Damontae Kazee. They also added Micah Parsons after selecting his number 11 overall in this past NFL Draft.

All of this work and effort seems to be a solid step towards earning that nickname back. That was until Jerry decided to accept the offer for the Cowboys to be on Hard Knocks. In my opinion, this is one of the biggest mistakes he has ever made in his time running the organization. That is saying a lot for Jones, too. He reportedly wanted to select quarterback Johnny Manziel rather than picking guard Zack Martin a few years back. I am guessing the idea of drafting the quarterback was made purely for the extra money it would bring in. You just had an underwhelming season and want the team back on track. The last thing this team needs is another distraction to go along with everything else that comes with playing in Dallas.

The Future of the Cowboys on Hard Knocks

Oh well. Committing to allowing the Hard Knocks crew into the team’s facilities is just another one of the biggest bonehead decisions Jones has made. I really hope I am wrong on this topic. Many would love to see the Cowboys have success and make it to the playoffs again. This is especially true for me. Unfortunately, I am a massive fan of the team. This lumps me in with a fan base that is hated by all outside of the franchise and its supporters. Trust me, I am not one of those typical followers. That being said, I absolutely hate Jerry Jones’ role and presence in the organization. The sooner he can just be an annoying owner, the better it would be for the Dallas Cowboys

This article was published on the Belly Up Sports website and specifically its NFL page. Belly Up Sports also has a Twitter account where you can interact with them as well. If you would like to talk to me directly, feel free to chat with me on Twitter. Try to keep it clean and proper. If you are incapable of doing so, ignore that completely and battle it out with me. Just a fair warning for all who dare challenge me. I am highly competitive and do not like to admit when I am wrong. So be prepared for a war of words.

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Kyle Sramek

A sports fan that hates the fact that he is a Cowboys fan, but is now stuck with this miserable truth.

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